Private Prisons Threaten Us All

We have written here before about the dangers of private prisons. Two years ago, Pennsylvania juvenile judges were caught taking bribes to fill up private prisons in that state (See Raygun Style Free Market Justice). In that case, hundreds of innocent kids got the maximum sentence as the prison system paid out millions to the guys who sent them there.

We have also written about how private prisons have failed to provide adequate medical care to inmates, causing deaths in many cases (See More Free Market Justice). Moreover, we have noted that the private prison system has a built in incentive to lobby for harsh laws so that they can add to the bottom line. Now we have evidence that this is indeed what they are doing.

NPR reports that it was an outfit called The American Legislative Exchange Council that drew up the Arizona law that requires immigrants to carry papers. ALEC is sponsored by, among other COPORATIONS, Corrections Corporation of America, the largest operator of private prisons in the country. ALEC apparently drafted the model legislation after a panel discussion in which the private prison community made clear that it sees tremendous future growth in the illegal alien market.

Given the business model, that certainly makes sense. First, the market is “detention” in this case, not necessarily imprisonment, so it’s altogether more informal. Second, immigrants do not have the legal rights, or access to counsel that might trouble the prison system. Third, their families are less accessible, and thus less likely to sue in the event that something ugly happens. All in all, illegal immigrants are great for corporate profits.

I think it is now fairly clear that there is no greater threat to human rights in the United States than the private prison system. In a matter of a few years, they have managed to develop levels of corruption we used to associate only with third world countries. Now they are lobbying against the constitutional rights of free people just to make a buck.

What will we be 50 years from now?

There is a petition drive to make private prisons illegal. Here is the lnk. A Single Voice Project.

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